Drakeview has a nice piece on management and leadership trends called, Paths to the Top. The post offers highlights from a Knowledge@Wharton article about an academic study by a Peter Cappelli. In particular, this quote caught my attention:
“Corporate hierarchies are flattening – middle management is gone and those who sit in executive offices have broader responsibilities.Â Contraction continues at the highest levels while more recently the lower tier executives have seen their numbers increasing.”
Those of us who have worked in medium and large organizations know this is true and this is one reason why the jobs of leadership and management are becoming increasingly facilitative by necessity. This is particularly the case for middle managers. Although the quote says middle management is gone, in most cases, it is just a smaller group of people having to do more. And many middle management responsibilities extend up the hierarchy to VPs and even Presidents.
It is because of these trends that is more critical than ever to change the way we are developing our managers and leaders. While their roles have changed, in many cases, the skills and development strategies have not.
I have been toying around with this equation:
OD + TRN + PM + pf = MM
Here´s what it means – Today´s (and tomorrow´s) middle management roles (all the way up to VPs) will be combinations of the following roles:
A healthy dose of Organization Development – Process improvement, change management, organization alignment, strategy implementaiton, group process, etc..
A healthy dose of Training – Development, coaching (also OD), facilitation (also OD)
A healthy dose of Project Management
And a bit of Performance Facilitation. Notice that I did not say people management or even performance management. Performance facilitation means taking ownership for communicating performance expectations, communicating performance results and handling performance challenges. Not in a parental boss-subordinate way, in a much more effective way.
If we defined middle management using this equation, would we hire and develop differently? Absolutely! Would this improve results? I think so!
The best middle managers spend much more time moving work forward, removing barriers, and aligning teams for success than they do managing people. In fact, I don´t think managing people should even be a goal because the term "managing" when combined with "people"?? is imbedded in a command and control model that we know does not work.
The best middle managers rigorously manage processes, organization structure/roles, and practices, and they facilitate, coach, and partner with people. Sure, sometimes we need to make a tough decision and let someone go, but if done right, people fire themselves.